I could not believe when I found out the good news. It was a Friday afternoon and I was alone in the office doing some minor jobs while my colleagues were attending a programme at a local university in Harare, Zimbabwe. I remember I screamed and celebrated by running around the office yard losing my jacket in the process. I was overjoyed both as an individual and as the founder of my organization. I felt specially honoured considering where it had all begun. The passion and the hard work had been recognized.
Winning the UNESCO award has allowed FSN to gain in credibility and respect from the country as a whole, despite the fact that it is a civil society organization. Government departments and ministries have pledged to continue supporting the network’s efforts for the emancipation of women and girls’ education towards achieving SDG 4 by 2030. In return the organization feels an increased sense of responsibility to adequately deliver on its mandate: empowering female students in Zimbabwe and beyond.
FSN now plans on convening a consultative meeting to scale-up the efforts of the organization in policy advocacy in tertiary education institutions across further provinces in Zimbabwe. Consultations will involve female students, authorities of tertiary institutions, representatives of government entities and parliamentarians to establish an action plan and guide the organization’s project implementation and objectives.
The organization envisions a democratic learning space for female students free from abuse and discrimination and filled with equal opportunities for girls and women. It aims to make female students aware of their rights and responsibilities, provide capacity-building training workshops and run sexual harassment campaigns and policy advocacy to ensure authorities’ accountability toward the needs of female students.
The entire Network: the female students, its staff, members and the board are immensely humbled by this international award and UNESCO’s support. We have been rejuvenated and energized to continue the hard work and increase the scope of our activities.